In Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, the women unite to end the war between Athens and Sparta. This unity is desired to achieve peace where the men could not. The central figure who makes the argument for peace is the character Lysistrata who at first glance may appear feminist to the modern reader. Though once Lysistrata is read more carefully, the female characters of Lysistrata actually present a negative portrayal of women, with their manipulations and use of sex appeal and seduction. As a result the women are portrayed in a negative connotation as the weaker sex.
The play Lysistrata takes place during the Peloponnesian War, a war between Athens and Sparta ...view middle of the document...
I know you all have men abroad. Wouldn’t you like to have them home?” (31). This motive proves the she is not so much concerned with the war but more with the absence of the husbands, therefore basing the happiness of the female population on the men.
Lysistrata assumes the only influence that the women can have over their husbands is the influence of their bodies. Her plan has nothing to do with intellect but based solely on their bodies not their minds. The woman “Peace” herself is a symbol of physical temptation, proving that the women do not try to persuade the men with their intelligence and that the men do not even view the argument the women present in an intellectual sense but merely a physical one. In the final scene Lysistrata uses a naked Peace to manipulate the men into agreeing to a peace agreement. Thus instead of relying on her ability to communicate, she uses physical temptation to convince the men. Throughout her last speech for peace, the men are hard pressed to pay attention to what she is actually saying with a naked women present. One man states while gazing at Peace, “I’m destroyed, of this is drawn out much longer” (117). Another claims, “Never saw one I wanted so much to top” (118). Peace not only distracts the men from listening to Lysistrata’s main concerns, but Peace now serves as a bribe for the men. One Spartan man proves this point when he takes what is being said about the Spartans being in the wrong and thinks they are referring to the fact he attempted to pat Peace on the behind, “Hit’s wrong, I reckon, but that’s the purtiest behind...” (117). Lysistrata allowing Peace to be displayed this way shows that she is fine with the degradation and objectification of women.
This objectification is first seen when the majority of the women arrive at the beginning of the play. Lysistrata scrutinizes their bodies and opens Lampito’s robe baring her breasts, to which Lampito remarks that she feels like “a heifer come fair-time” (29). The women look desperate in their desires for sex, especially when the women all begin to make up excuses to leave the Acropolis...